About That Reagan Thing
Jane wrote about it here, and Digby here, but there was a lot of discussion online and off about Obama’s kind words about Reagan this week. Here’s what I had to say in an email conversation on Thursday:
The other fundamental movement issue is to build the cultural "hero" cred of people who are actually from the left. When you reify icons of the right, you continue to strengthen the these icons, and all they stood for (apart from your actual statements or intent) as the standards through which we should approach the future.
That’s what cultural heroes and myths are for: giving us a reference point from the past through which to interpret the present and help us navigate the future. Obama wants to coopt the sensibility of "morning in America" hope without thinking through, or perhaps caring that much about at the moment (he’s in a dogfight), these more fundamental, long term, cultural, social and political issues.
He’s a great storyteller, and us shrinks are taught to learn a lot about people from the stories they tell : who are the heroes and villains of their stories? The stories we tell ourselves and others about the world and about ourselves say pretty much everything about who we are. Obama’s stories, from what I can tell, are mostly about himself, mostly about rising above conflict, messianic in tone, but not about movements – political movements and forces, or even values (other than perhaps comity) – larger than himself. That’s the criticism movement types have of him: they don’t see him as someone they can trust in his decision making in office, the compromises he will make. And, he agrees: he sees himself as above partisanship.
If he can overlook Reagan’s dishonesty, his death squads, and all the rest, and it does not make the bile rise to the gorge when thinking about Reagan’s legacy, then his values are open to question, from the left.
That’s the argument between Obama and the base.
Stoller looks at the Nevada numbers and speculates it may have cost him the popular vote, even if he wins the delegate count due to Nevada’s asinine caucus system. Liberals seem to be shifting to Clinton.
Folks, I realize we’re not in the general election yet, but the two primary frontrunners have been positioning themselves for the general since well before the primaries ever began.
Is it too much to ask of them that they make the explicit case that we’ve had our experiment with conservatism, and it has failed, miserably? Evidence abounds and gathers. If you can’t stomp your boot heel on the throat of your opponent when he’s down, when will you ever, ever do it?
Oh, right: we’re talking about Democrats, who, politically, have a famous taste for the capillaries (except when they’re up against their base). Hopefully, those liberal primary swing voters will force the eventual nominee to fight for real progressive values.
As ever, that’s where you come in.